Interview with the Plastic artist Lou Borguetti to Carlos Zemek´s magazine.
When have you started creating interest to plastic arts? Was there any special happening which awaked your vocation ?
I remember that when I was nine or ten years old I signed up in a children´s art contest called: “The kid and the caravel”, promoted by Portuguese bank. I got honorable mention from it and that moment I felt myself an artist.
It was such a defining and outstanding moment that until today I can clearly remember the draw I made by crayons.
Obviously this was not the only reason why I´ve started it, but there was since the very first moment of subscribing, an awakening to the talent that later I would develop.
Which are the sources for your works inspiration?
Many, and they are manifested in many different and unexpected ways. At the beginning of my career, I worked with the “floral” theme, maybe the most marginalized of all. I never understood this marginalization because the flower is perhaps the only symbol present in pain and joy, as in life and death.
Even my flowers not being so clear, because they were at the bottom of the canvas or the paper, I´ve noticed certain prejudice from art critics and gallery owners.
People in general loved this work, therefore I felt myself dancing out of the rhythm by the art market. When I was about seven or eight years old, a very meaningful fact happened and I could never forget it. I can vividly remember it. My paternal grandfather was mourned at home. Instead of registering only the sadness and the pain of his loss, I kind of “dramatized” the fact in my imagination,and got magnetized by the long candles and white flowers, besides lilles and the callas. The wax smell mixed to the lillies´scentdoesn't seem sad to me, but the transfiguration of death as a ritual of life.I believe that this was the remote inspiration for my later work with flowers,besides their perfume when my grandmother filled the house with jars of flowers from her garden.
Years later I worked with reinterpretation of classic world painting: Rembrandt, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Velásquez e F. Goya… They were beautiful works which resulted in an exhibition called: “ Rembrando” ( I really enjoy creating new words and this is one : “Lembrando Rembrandt",Remembering Rembrandt.) However, it didn´t take long to me to realize that this was only an artistic learning process that would guide me to other paths.
Then I thought: where, how and when the Visual Arts began here in Rio Grande do Sul? I started researching about it and I could reach the fascinating period of “Sete Povos das Missões” ( The seven mission people),and began to work with this theme which resulted in a series called “ Cartografia Missioneira”. Soon after,there came a period which I recognized as a kind of “limbo”:as an artist, I felt that the issue was running out of creativity and nothing else would come from it.
In periods like this it is normal for me to spend a long time without painting. And when I eventually paint, it raises some very abstract ideas with apparently not much sense.
When I was invited to do an exhibition at MARGS ( Art Museum of Rio Grande do Sul),I accepted ,although a bit scared due to the fact of not having any excellent work to such an important event. I had less than a year ahead and significant inspiration that could move me. I got on my paper studies but nothing happened. One night, organizing “ Gaveta dos Guardados” or “ Drawer of saved” as Iberê Camargo,our great painger,used to say , I found four draws of mine made at the age of four, that my mother had kept,which really amazed me. It seemed to me that everything I needed was there: There were houses, trees, the moon, the sun, the kid, an animal, a flower, a very large stair that left from the house, rain, colours, landscape´s allusions, etc.
The ability to synthesis completeness of those children´s drawings seized me. I was suddenly invaded by an avalanche of wishes and inspiration.I worked hard day and night ,while creativity, colours and shapes arose,and the theme which I decided to develop and which I´m still working on.
My exhibition on MARGS, occupied three rooms and was the result of , maybe , my best moment till then. The name of the show was given by the curator and art critic Paulo Gomes: “ Possible landscapes”.
At the moment, I am working in a theme called: “We are all Alices”, a Pop Art work based on Alice in Wonderland ,from Lewis Carroll. The ideas of nonsense and curiosity combined with the power of images, produced a new and pleasant work, still in the colorful and powerful universe of a child.
Besides the painting, I also work with engravings and illustrations. There is also the photography, which I take as a kind of personal hobby. As I photograph ,I feel like a “picker picture”- maybe a “ pintógrafa” (another word I have invented) because I get abstract and colorful shapes which are on the surfaces of the iron, the wood, the masonry where the action of time and abandonment did its work, bringing out impossible colours to see in new surfaces.
My last individual show was of photographs, at Tina Zappoli´s Gallery and I called it “ Iron and Flower", because I realized the action of time is as relentless in iron as in flowers.
Do you have preference of any kind of color or pattern? Tell us about your technique and how is your process of creation.
I like very much the tertiary colors, the paler colors: the gray-blues and the almost blacks ( or the blackies) with tons of earth, besides the white and all the colors. Today many people recognize my work by its textures and colors.
There was a time when my painting was very dark, maybe by influence of my master Iberê Camargo, with who I was student and assistance for long years. But the pop “ Alices” is very colorful. It may be my very first moment with the palette full of primary and secondary colors- --no doubt a great pleasure and challenge.
Which is the theme you most enjoy expressing in your work? Which is the message of your works, what kind of idea or feeling you wish to pass with your work?
It is hard to an artist to define a message or the feeling which he or she intends to express through his or her works. The painter, as a rule, doesn´t think about while creating or painting. I, for example,search the process that can possibly result in a good work. What really matters to me are colors and shape. Those who contemplate m,y work afterwards,will create their own feeling towards it. I believe that this is the real art power transformation. About this , a very curious fact happened this week. I received an e mail from an american man , who wanted to have a painting from my “Alice” series, which he saw in a Gallery in Miami. This client asked, in free translation, the following: “ Hi, Lou. We have recently seen your painting “ Alice´s Tears”, in Miami. Could you please tell us the story behind this painting? We are considering to buy it and we would love to know more about it”
Here we notice the mingling of emotions from both sides: mine , while responsible by the production of the work ,and his, wishing to know better the painting that raised his interest. I answered: “ What delights me in Alice is her curiosity ,and the daring of facing fear. The profusion of formal contents, the dynamics of colors and the tiltle “ Alice´s Tears”, refers to the moment in the book in which she says: ´' I´ve cried so much that my tears turned into river. Now I will swim in my own tears river.' "
This story is timeless. “Alice in the wonderland” show us that not only the fictional story can be nonsense, but life as well: many times , things seems not to have a clear meaning, but at the end they have much more meaning than we can ever imagine.”
Talk a little about your style and influences. List the names you most admire.
It´s hard to define my style today, once you have so many new schools , but I bet in Expressionism. About the influences, I would say, that in Brazil , Iberê Camargo, Volpi, Siron Franco, Mira Schendel, Daniel Senise were maybe the ones which most influenced me. Among the foreigners, I could not fail to mention Anselm Kiefer, Robert Rauschemberg, Antoni Tàpies, Yuri Kuper and Basquiat. There might be many more names that by different ways and in various moments influenced my production ,but these are the most important.
The artist´s life is not only made by accomplishments but also of dreams and projects. Which are your projects to 2016?
Dreaming is extremely important because it brings joy and hope. Although I haven´t thought too much about the year 2016, I like the idea of visiting Greece or to know Japan and see closely the current art and the culture of the rising sun land. I would love to visit Anselm Kiefer ´s studio, in France,and watch him working in his spectacular and giant paintings “uau”: that would be awesome.
I´m preparing a new exhibition and I want, as usual, to dedicate me to my paintings and my students and artists who seek my orientation at Lou Borghetti`s Studio. By the way ,this is one of my biggest pleasures: I love my studio full of students! There we not only work but also have fun; we can not forget the playful part of art.
I use to go one or two times a year to Washington DC, where I work with a Gallery which represents me and where I have done two exhibitions. I am also starting with a Gallery in Miami.
I would like to finish the interview with part of a text written specially "to Lou Borghetti and her studio", by a great brazilian writer , friend of mine, called Lya Luft.
“ Borghetti´s work is a celebration of that which nonetheless persists and is beautiful, that disassembles and continuously recovers, as the transformations of nature. It is a lucid dream and plot where labels and explanations become superfluous. I never doubted that Lou is also a bit of a witch. And some of me remains in that Art Studio, long after I have left: this work shows us as human and transcendent , lost but recovered, and always unfinished. As in life, the art never ends.”
( Published at Zero Hora newspaper on 04/19/2003)